How much do you know about the food you eat? Food production and the politics surrounding it have an enormous impact on our environment and economy. In recent years, scientists and activists have raised concerns about the sustainability and security of our food systems here in the US and around the world, but food has always been a driving force in international and domestic policy. Barnard faculty members Kim F. Hall, Deborah Valenze, Paige West, and Hilary Callahan engage in an interdisciplinary conversation about the past and present social, geopolitical, rhetorical, and environmental factors that influence how food—including items as seemingly ordinary as sugar, coffee, milk, and corn—shapes culture and politics in this discussion moderated by Elizabeth Castelli.
Since the women’s health movement blossomed in the 1970s, there has been an ever-increasing trend toward examining all aspects of human health for evidence of sex differences. But some of the movement’s major achievements—such as a federal mandate to collect and analyze data by sex in all health research—may paradoxically turn out to be obstacles for understanding health differences between and within sex/gender groups. Building on her earlier work in Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences and using examples from both physical and mental health research, this 2011 Silver Science lecture by Rebecca Jordan-Young reviews some basic questions about measurement in “sex-specific” medicine that could revolutionize the field and yield research and clinical practice that is actually far more specific and scientific than the current approach. What kind of variable is “sex,” and can it be measured separately from “gender”? When we have information on specific biological mechanisms underlying health differences, what does the variable “sex” add to our analyses? BCRW Acting Director Elizabeth Castelli introduces Rebecca Jordan-Young delivering the lecture “‘Sex’ is Not a Mechanism: Making ‘Sex-Specific Medicine’ More Scientific.”
From writing new constitutions to serving in local and national governance to sustaining NGOs and grassroots organizations to making policy changes, women and feminist groups in Africa are doing the difficult work of pushing local, state and international bodies to implement and guarantee gender equality and justice at every level. A group of scholars and activists draw on their experience in multiple regions of Africa, discussing how women are participating in the rebuilding of their societies – whether in post-conflict contexts or in times of deep political transformation during revolutions, post- revolutionary periods and transitions to democracy. Panelists include Lila Abu-Lughod (Columbia University), Rabab El Mahdi (American University in Cairo), Jane Bennett (African Gender Institute), and Penelope Andrews (CUNY School of Law) in this discussion moderated by Rosalind Morris (Columbia University).
Does a feminist perspective limit researchers’ abilities to see and interpret empirical realities? What happens when these perspectives clash with the reality of field observations? A group of ethnographers discuss how their feminist perspectives can both limit and enhance their ability to analyze power structures and evaluate social change. Panelists include Orit Avishai (Fordham University) and Lynne Gerber (University of California, Berkeley) in this discussion moderated by Margot Weiss (Wesleyan University).
Colleges and universities are experiencing the effects of the economic downturn and our political climate in numerous ways. This panel of students and faculty discuss how activists on their campuses are working to combat budget cuts and the undermining of the public sector, provide alternatives to neoliberal restructuring in higher education, and fight against racism and gender inequities. Panelists include Abigail Boggs (University of California, Davis), Debanuj Dasgupta (Ohio State University), Stephanie Luce (Murphy Institute, CUNY), Sandra K. Soto (University of Arizona), and Jesse Kadjo (Loyola University) in this discussion moderated by Catherine Sameh (BCRW).
What types of projects are possible when scholars and activists work together? Scholars in the Gender Studies Program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico have formed partnerships with activist groups to address issues like state oppression and violence, struggles for land rights and indigenous rights, and gender equity both within the University and in the community at large. Scholar and activist participants in these projects discuss how they’ve combined traditional academic tools with new ways of intervention to create change. Panelists include Marisa Belausteguigoitia Rius, Rian Lozano de la Pola, Lorena Wolffer, and Helena Lopez in this discussion moderated by Margaret Cerullo.
How can activists use knowledge to advance their campaigns? How can scholars and activists work collaboratively to produce and promote knowledge that is grounded in feminist and social justice frameworks? Activists who have been able to produce and use knowledge to initiate change across numerous issues contribute to this conversation about the uses of knowledge in activist work. Panelists include Rinku Sen (Applied Research Center), Dean Spade ’97 (University of Seattle School of Law), and Jamia Wilson (Women’s Media Center) in this discussion moderated by Laura Flanders ’85 (GRITtv).
Colleges and universities across the country are increasingly interested in adding opportunities for civic engagement to their curricula, seeking to expose their students to new ways of practicing and researching social justice. Educators from several institutions will look at the ways in which these projects can build feminist awareness and community on college campuses. Panelists include Dara J. Silberstein (SUNY Binghamton), Jerilyn Fisher (Hostos Community College), Leslie Simon (City College of San Francisco) and Stephanie Gilmore (Dickinson College) in this discussion moderated by Susannah Bartlow (Dickinson College).
In “Forwarding Feminism,” her keynote lecture at Activism and the Academy: Celebrating 40 Years of Feminist Scholarship and Action, South African academic, activist, and writer Mamphela Ramphele offers an inspiring and thought-provoking vision for the future of feminism and activism.
BCRW’s commitment to bringing feminist scholars and activists together in conversation and collaboration has been at the center of our work for the past 40 years. Representatives from three organizations with whom we have recently partnered—the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Queers for Economic Justice, and the New York Women’s Foundation— discuss the unique models of feminist action and knowledge that have been produced through BCRW’s scholar-activist partnerships. Panelists include Ai-jen Poo (National Domestic Workers Alliance), Sydnie L. Mosley ’07 (dancer, choreographer and teacher), Amber Hollibaugh (Queers for Economic Justice), and Ana Oliveira (New York Women’s Foundation) in this plenary, moderated by Janet Jakobsen (BCRW).